Weight of 2 Greek 'staters' - ROM2014_14146_17


Weight of 2 Greek 'staters'

Medium:Porphyry, carved and polished
Geography: Possibly excavated at Naukratis, Egypt
Date: c. 664-332 BC
Period: 26th-30th Dynasty, Late Period
1.6 × 2.6 cm, 17.1 g
Object number: 909.80.357
On view
Gallery Location:Galleries of Africa: Egypt

Currency in the form of coins was introduced into Egypt during the Late Period, but for most of Ancient Egyptian history a barter-exchange system based on the value of various weights of silver or copper was used.  Goods were valued in terms of how much copper or silver would be required to buy them, and then exchanged for other goods with the same value in metal.  For example, an Ostracon from Deir el Medina, #73, verso, described by Jac Jansen in Commodity Prices from the Ramesside Period (Leiden, 1975) gives an example of a coffin worth 25.5 deben of copper, which was purchased for two goats, one pig, two sycamore logs, and 13.5 deben of actual copper. There are many such exchanges recorded from Ancient Egypt.  Units of grain and oils were also used in exchange-barter.  As in modern economies, rates of exchange varied with supply. The weight, in grams, of a deben changed from the Old and New Kingdoms to the Late Period, but a qedet, (also known as a kite) was always valued at one tenth of a deben. Stone and bronze weights equivalent to specific amounts of copper were used in everyday market transactions, and could be checked against more official weights kept in temples.

In addition to the native system of deben and qedet the Ancient Egyptians also used Mesopotamian, Syrian and Greek systems. This weight corresponds to the Greek system. The city of Naukratis, where a great many weights have been found, had a mixed population of soldiers and traders from the Aegean and Mesopotamia as well as native Egyptians. Although the use of the Greek weights preceded the invasion of Egypt by Alexander of Macedon, this system is known as the stater system after gold coins of Philip of Macedon known by that name.  Staters were often cast in the shape of ducks, but can also be found in other forms.  This dome-shaped weight was carved from an attractive grey and white hard stone, possibly porphyry.  It is of the carinated dome type with a soft edge; of atruncated conical shape, with flat base and convex top.  It represents two staters.

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